This Week I Have Been Mostly….

 

this week i have been mostly

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! It’s finally here!

Over the years I’ve written loads of posts about Christmas. In 2013  I even wrote a blog a day for 24 days and called Shutterbug’s Advent Calendar. This was way before Blogmas was a thing… I’m such a trend-setter!

So I’m not going to bore you all with the same old stuff. But I have been feeling extra specially Christmassy this year. It might be because last year I spent Christmas Day travelling to New York. And yes, it was the most amazing holiday and such a special way to celebrate Christmas Day. But it did leave me feeling like I’d missed my usual traditional Christmas Day – the Christmas Day I’d been used to.

This year Christmas Day falls on a Sunday which means Christmas Eve is also a weekend day. So no work for us! And it means we get an extra day before Christmas Day to prepare and wrap and shop and eat!

This year I start my celebrations on Christmas Eve Eve with a trip to London to see Chic after work, and it means I can let down my hair and have a good old boogie knowing that I don’t have to work the next day!

So far, we’ve put up the tree, bought all the presents and started eating lots of gingerbread!

We also went to Winter Wonderland last weekend, and I vlogged so keep an eye out for the video which should be going up on my channel this coming weekend.

And now I can finally say that Christmas is next week. I still have to wrap the presents, but I’m just waiting for the last one to arrive. We’ve watched most of our Christmas films but there’s still Muppets Christmas Carol to go, and then The Holiday and Polar Express on Christmas Eve.

I can’t wait for a traditional family Christmas this year and it’s coming around so quickly!

If you haven’t seen it already, I posted a new video onto my channel in my Things I Like series. This time around it’s all about Christmas so take a look!

 

This is likely to be my last proper post before Christmas, so I hope you have an awesome day and wonderful break from work and school. Stay safe, eat drink and be merry! Merry Christmas!!

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Attempting To Get Crafty

I’ve never professed to be the craftiest of people. I like to cook, and at one point I was rather good at it. Between the ages of 8-16 I had the time and inclination and I’m grateful to my Mum for encouraging me. I used to make iced novelty cakes and even made the Christmas dinner for the family at about 12-13 when both my Mum and Sister woke up with flu. Somewhere along the way life took over and I lost the will to cook or at least be adventurous. But since moving into this house, and thinking more about the food I eat, I’ve had the motivation again and thankfully I’m still okay at it. Though I still can’t break an egg without getting shell in the bowl – something I used to be fine at.

I have been known to cross stitch and I’m not too bad, but it’s very expensive to buy the kits and I do need instructions – I’m not THAT good. I could never knit, and today was a good example of having the will with no skill as I tried to make a 30 minute infinity scarf using just two balls of wool and my arms, and now, three hours later, I have a lovely Tesco bag full of tangled wool to show for it. I’ll try again another time. It has not defeated me!

I spent a good few years making cards and scrapbooking with a lot of gusto but not a lot of cash. The bits and bobs I still have left over come in handy on occasion.

Every year at Christmas, I toy with the idea of making some handmade gifts for friends and family and then decide it will either be too time consuming or costly. But this year I stuck to my guns. Having eaten a lot of Gu puddings in my time (a lot), Gary had been getting increasingly frustrated with the number of glass ramekins we had in the cupboard, that I obviously wasn’t going to use for cooking (I’m not a souffle kind of girl) and refused to throw away (I am my Father’s daughter, and if it still has use it stays).

As a child I’d had a candle making kit so knew candle making was a simple task, but I also knew could make something special out of those little glass pots. After a little research I bought some soy wax flakes (they have a lower smoking point and cool to a lovely wintery white colour), wicks and candle scent. After a few emails to and fro and a package that never arrived, I finally had all the ingredients.

Making candles is simple, as long as you buy the correct wax for what you’re making. Different mixes of wax are suitable for moulded candles and container candles as they will set slightly differently.

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I’d used a chocolate oil to scent the candles and as they cooled they made the house smell of warm chocolate pudding – which coincidentally had been what was in the pots originally! I was a little sad I’d not made enough to keep one but have been reassured they smell lovely when burned.

I decorated the little pots with Christmas ribbons and little wooden charms, then wrapped them in cellophane, tied with a bow. I was rather pleased with them and have a little bit of wax left so I could make one for myself if I wished to. It was fairly cheap and very easy to do with no technical skill, only if you attempt it make sure you google some instructions so you’re aware of potential dangers and pitfalls in your particular project. But it was a success! Now I have to think of something for next year……!

Next up….. take 5 on the infinity scarf… I won’t let you win!

 

This Week I Have Been Mostly…

this week i have been mostly

This week I have been mostly celebrating Christmas! The week of Christmas is always an odd one. I have no idea what day of the week it is, or what time of day it is for most of the week.

Monday to Wednesday we were at work, but had a half day on Wednesday as it was Christmas Eve. We finished work at lunch time and had a wonderful meal at the local village pub and said our Merry Christmases. Once at home I spent the rest of the day with Gary prepping our evening and getting ready for our traditional Christmas Eve movies. We bought take-away and watched The Holiday and The Polar Express in our pyjamas!

After such a busy couple of weeks I finally started to relax and was asleep by half 11, dreaming of Santa and snow…. well maybe not but I did sleep really well! We woke on Christmas morning after 8am which is good work for me.

We sat under the tree and exchanged gifts (Naked 2 palette and Essie nail polish!) and then had hot croissants and orange juice for breakfast. We spent the morning with Gary’s family at his Mum and Dad’s house and then headed to my parent’s for Christmas lunch and more presents. My Sister and her family and my Grandad were also there and it was lovely spending the day with them since I don’t see them an awful lot normally.

Gary and I received some wonderful gifts including a hamper full of peanut butter flavoured goodies, a Ghostbusters Lego set, an amazing tea set from the Brew Tea Co and Mum bought me another term at Rock Choir (which I’m so excited about!). By about 7pm Gary and I were exhausted so we headed home and had a little nap whilst watching Frozen on Sky. By 9:30 we were tucked up in bed and watching more tv – not very rock and roll but totally cosy and exactly what we wanted to do!

Boxing Day was another day of rest. We had a late start and then headed over to Gary’s Mum’s for lunch before heading back over to my family to say goodbye to my Grandad who was heading back home. Reports of snow and torrential rain were justified as the freezing rain hit, but thankfully no snow for us, only sleet onto wet ground. We’re hoping that the upcoming weather doesn’t scupper our new year plans.

We’ve had a couple of really wonderful relaxing days and we’re now ready to hit the gym, sort out the house and start 2015 with a bang. We already have quite a few things planned for next year and they’re all very exciting! So we’re going to enjoy the rest of the weekend and then hit the ground running in preparation for January. Another successful Christmas.

December 12th

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As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I pride myself on trying to get the perfect present for the right people. It’s hard work and I often spend the whole year thinking of gifts for birthdays and christmas, just so I can get the right one. I have an amazon list which is set up just for me to add the odd idea for people as I come across them.

Over the years I’ve noticed it can often be the little incidental presents that mean the most to people. As a kid I remember being given a Fozzie Bear toothbrush which I loved, and a FunFax which was like a Filofax but for kids. It had so many stickers in it! And I loved it so much. I try to think outside the box in that way, especially for children. They love the little crafty sets that you can actually make something useful from or the handheld electric game they’d never had thought to ask for. I had a little soccer game with pixellated men on it trying to get the balls into the goal. I had hours of fun on that!

I once gave Gary a John Lennon cd boxed set. He’d previously owned it but leant it to a teacher at his school and never got it back. He’d been pining over it and mentioned a few times how he missed it. But he’d bought it once, and so it would never have come into his head to buy it again. Perfect present. When he opened it at my parent’s house on Christmas day, he later told me he found it really hard not to get too emotional over it. I’d gone to a little thought and it seemed like a given to give this to him as a gift, but he never once thought I might. It’s made it all more special to have now.

One year I found an amazing cardigan in a shop, which I knew would be perfect for my sister. So perfect that I after I’d bought it I was sure she already owned it and had to call my Mum and make sure. That’s the kind of gift I like to give.

This year I’m going very low-key with presents, as we all sometimes have to from time to time, but I’ve still gone for gifts that I think will be useful and that I’d like to get given myself. What I’m most excited about is the fact I have time off over Christmas for the first time in 12 years, since I left school. Being able to actually relax on Christmas Day evening knowing I don’t have to work the next day is the biggest gift I can get this year. And I’m also able to spend New Year away with family, for the same reason. You can’t wrap it, but it’s the best present I could have asked for.

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The Christmas Queen’s guide to Gift Buying

As my regular readers will know, I adore Christmas. And it’s come to the point in the year when a Christmas list needs to be made, and presents need to be bought. I have always loved buying presents for people and make it my goal to buy the perfect gift for each and every person. It requires thought and planning and knowing the person well, but in the end it’s so worth it.

I still find it strange when people buy the wrong present for friends and family, or simply can’t think of anything to get. So I thought I’d write a guide to finding the perfect present, and simple does and don’ts for those gift-buying challenged readers.

Firstly the simple rules of gift buying: The definition of a perfect present for someone, is something they’d love to have but wouldn’t buy for themselves. Stay away from the clichéd gifts. People say if you buy something for someone which you’d like yourself, it makes a good gift, but I’d say if you buy your Nan a set of iPod speakers because you’d like them, you’re doing it wrong.

When I say stay away from clichés I mean don’t get the standard tie, socks, perfume etc. unless you know they really want them.

Gifts for women are easier than for men, in my opinion. But stay away from the obvious. If the woman you’re buying for loves a certain perfume, don’t buy that for them, because they’ll already have a bottle and it’ll take them at least another year until they use it. Instead, think around that theme – buy them an atomiser for their handbag so they can carry a small amount of scent around with them. Or get a beautiful perfume bottle to decant into. Don’t buy make up because you’ll get the shade wrong no doubt. And never ever buy a woman electrical kitchen appliances UNLESS she’s asked for it specifically. No woman wants a hoover for Christmas.

Men are very tricky, but they love gadgets or kits or puzzles. Think around their hobbies. If they like to read, get them a book journal or a set of book ends. If they like gardening, buy them a bird feeder or set of binoculars. But no to ties, socks or slippers! Those driving experiences are the sort of thing he’ll love! I know all men are different but if you think around hobbies you’ll get it right. Music lovers might like a biography of their favourite artist, if there is one. Book lovers might like books like ‘Eats, Shoots and leaves’. TV lovers might like a boxed set of their favourite show or a book guide to it. Animal lovers might like a kit where you’ve adopted their favourite animal on their behalf.

Kids – remember when you were a kid? Think about how much you loved the little off the cuff gifts you got that you would never have dreamed to ask for? I got a Funfax when I was little which I loved to death. It’s easy to spoil kids and if they’re your own, go ahead – but it they’re not yours it’s not up to you to spoil them. Buy them a book, or a small toy or a little electronic diary and leave the spoiling to their parents. And don’t forget that 10 minutes after they’ve opened your gift, they’re looking for the next one. So don’t waste your time and money – spend it on one good gift that they’ll love. Puzzles, teddys and little electronic games can be bought cheaply and will be used eventually if not straight away.

So that’s my little basic guide to pressie buying. I hope it’s given you some ideas – but feel free to comment if you want help buying something for someone – it’s my pleasure to help!

From the Christmas Queen

 

This Christmas

So, it’s Boxing Day. Christmas flies far too fast doesn’t it? There’s so much preparation and then it just arrives and leaves!

Christmas Eve was good. I work in a store, and every Boxing Day the sale starts, which means Christmas Eve is spent preparing the shop for the sale. We close early, turn up the tunes and then it’s all hands on deck getting the shop re arranged and marking everything to the correct prices. Yes, it’s a daunting prospect but by the time we close, we’re all ready and raring to get it finished. This year we were done half an hour earlier than we’d expected!

So after work, Gary and I went and got our traditional Christmas Eve McDonalds. There’s nothing like a Big Mac after a day of sale prepping! We went to my Mum’s house where my Sister, her kids and my Grandad had all arrived. We spent a while there and then went home. By the time we got home and chilled out a bit, we were exhausted. We were asleep by half past 10!

But that didn’t matter because I was awake around 7am Christmas morning, excited and wanting to open presents 😀 I know, I’m 26 and should know better, but every Christmas (and birthday!) I can’t help but wake up at stupid O’clock!

So we went downstairs, sat under the tree and exchanged gifts. Gary got me a Jill E camera bag, Beyonce’s album, two Singstar games and the 10 year reunion blu-ray of Can’t Hardly Wait.

I made croissants and then we got ready to go out. We went to Gary’s parent’s house first to exchange gifts, and then to my parent’s. I had two helpings of Christmas dinner! I can’t get enough of it 🙂

By the end of the day we were all tired and full and happy! I love Christmas and this was a cracker! 😀